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NPA responds to inaccurate claims about UK pig production in the Telegraph

15th Jul 2020 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA has written a strongly-worded letter to the Telegraph in response to an article that made a number of misleading claims about UK pork production.

Lizzie WilsonThe article entitled ‘A Pig’s Life – Conventional versus organic’, which appeared in the paper on Monday next to a longer article on why ‘Meat is good for you (and the planet)’, cited Compassion in World Farming, RSPCA and the Soil Association as its sources.

Among the claims made was that ‘half of British sows are kept in cages so small they can’t turn around or do natural tasks like building a nest for their young or foraging for food’.

It claimed 93% of pigs are kept ‘entirely indoors’ and can ‘attack and eat each other’ if not managed properly and that some pigs are ‘routinely given antibiotics when not unwell to encourage them to put on weight’.

In a letter intended for publication sent to the Telegraph today, the NPA’s Lizzie Wilson said she was ‘extremely disappointed to read your inaccurate references’ to UK pig production in the article.

“Sadly, you have not chosen to derive your information from credible sources, or current legislation, and in so doing have misrepresented the truth,” she wrote.

She highlighted that, far from 'half of British sows are kept in cages so small they can’t turn around', the farrowing crates referred to are ‘used for a short period of time to protect vulnerable new born piglets during and after birth, not least because a sow is around 150 times the size of the piglets’.

“For the remaining time, sows on all UK farms roam freely in groups either indoors or outdoors,” she added.

“Routine use of antibiotics is prohibited in the pig sector – in fact the UK pig sector has voluntarily more than halved antibiotic usage within two years. Furthermore, antibiotic growth promoters were banned by the EU in 2006.

“As you will know given the recent coverage in your own paper, the standards of animal welfare in the UK are some of the highest in the world and far and above many other countries, particularly those trying to encourage us to import their pork which is produced to a much lower standard.

“Therefore, articles using erroneous and inflammatory information only seek to further undermine the commitment and hard work of our British farmers in caring for the health and welfare of their pigs.”

Lizzie also sent a longer letter to the editor addressing each inaccuracy in more detail with factual evidence, which the NPA hopes will ensure there is no repeat in future.

This letter can be viewed HERE